Ask the School Psychologist...|
by Beth Bruno, Ed.M., M.A.
"I Hate Homework," Says Mom
I am a parent and I hate homework! There is plenty of research that indicates that homework is not beneficial to students, particularly in elementary school. I graduated from Yale and completed graduate school. There was relatively little (if any) homework when I was in elementary school and the lack of it has not negatively impacted my life or academic success in any way.
Teachers have become like dental hygienists. Dental hygienists think there is nothing in the world more important than flossing one's teeth, and that one should devote large amounts of one's "free" time to it. Teachers think there is nothing in the world more important than school and homework.
What about PLAY? Where children run off their excess energy, work out their conflicts and anxieties, and learn about the world through self-guided experience and free form creativity.
What about READING? Not the 30 minutes per night prescribed by the teacher out of a book picked by the teacher, but maybe hours spent reading something the kid wants to read? When I graduated from high school I had read all of John Steinbeck, all of Jane Austen, all of Zane Gray and all the works of numerous other authors. None of these were dictated by teachers. Homework in high school was just a nuisance that prevented me from reading several hundred more books, and it interfered with the phenomenal education I was giving myself. When I look back on all the junk I learned in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all.
What about RELIGION? No time for God anymore. It's not part of the homework. My mother read us bible stories every night when I was a child. No time for that now! Have to do that homework!
What about SPORTS? I have been out working for 30 years and know for an absolute fact that learning to work and cooperate with others as a team is vastly more important than almost any academic skill. Teachers don't really acknowledge this. They have jobs where they work by themselves in a classroom all day. They make a big deal out of saying that they work as a team with other school personnel but it is minimal compared to what is required in most other jobs.
I have five children. The oldest is 29. She was a superb student. She did her homework in front of the TV. She got into college on early decision and graduated from college cum laude. If you ask her what experiences were the most important in helping her achieve the academic and business success she has had, she will tell you that it was progressing through summer camp where she became a CIT and then a counselor and a lifeguard. She learned how to work with and manage other people and how to be responsible. It definitely wasn't homework or even school.
I now have four special needs children ages six to eleven. My husband and I have spent literally hundreds (feels like thousands) of hours trying to get them through their homework. I have not seen the slightest evidence that all that homework has helped them in any way. It is a colossal waste of their time and our time as well. We could better have spent that time teaching them life skills that would actually help them in the long run. Our eleven-year-old twins, who are significantly learning disabled, have gotten far more out of playing ice hockey than they are ever going to get out of homework. It has improved their ability to concentrate, follow directions and figure out what needs to be done more than any homework assignment they have ever had.
So, I say, bag the homework! We're going to hockey practice. Then we're going to church school. We're going to keep on reading Harry Potter instead of the assigned reading. And when we're done with that we're going to go out in the woods and play. Maybe build a fort and figure out how to put something together by trial and error. And at night we're going to learn how to floss our teeth in our "free" time!
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